For the final time before Sunday’s opener at Buffalo, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano met with the media this afternoon. Not surprisingly, the coach wasn’t particularly open when it came to injuries, but it certainly doesn’t seem like LB Channing Crowder is going to play. On the bright side, though, I would be very surprised if LT Jake Long didn’t make the start.
The coach was asked about playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which we all know is a tough environment, and he pointed out several reasons why: There are tight quarters, there are a lot of people, and it’s loud. Seems simple enough. The coach also pointed out that unlike the newer stadiums, where the fans are pretty far back from the field, the fans in Orchard Park are right on top of you and that they “know your name.” Other things that stood out:
-Sparano said that early on in camp he was “not fair” to LB Ike Alama-Francis and that in a 10-day period, Alama-Francis was moved back-and-forth from the defensive line to linebacker three or four times. He said that Alama-Francis always had a great attitude and responded to every request with a simple “Yes sir.” When Sparano wanted him to gain weight, he did. When he wanted him to lose weight, he did. Sparano eventually called him and told him he was going to be a linebacker and said that this is a player he’s really pulling for on Sunday.
-When asked about the health of QB Chad Pennington’s shoulder, Sparano said that it is probably “pretty close” to being back to pre-surgery strength. Sparano added that he thought they way they managed his reps during training camp was a huge help for Pennington.
-The coach discussed the relationship between offensive coordinator Dan Henning and starting QB Chad Henne and said that it has really come a long way. Now that Henne is the starter, the two of them are really working to turn him into a top-flight NFL quarterback.
UPDATE: Here are some video highlights to see the coach give a very entertaining explanation of secrecy in the NFL; to hear him talk about the “really rare” relationship between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown; and the talk he and CB Jason Allen had that got them on the same page:
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